Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sitting Pretty

This project is a combination of two of my favorite things to do, hand-stitched wool applique and repurposing vintage furniture.

I found a great vanity bench at a resale shop. The price was right and I saw possibilities. The first part of the process is securing old wool clothing, skirts, jackets, and yardage. Throughout history fabric was valuable so women used every scrap. Women would never think of discarding an article of clothing that could be refashioned or used for a household item. The tradition of wool applique grew out of a tradition called penny rugs. Women would trace large coins and "pennies" cut out the pieces and hand stitch them to a background to make decorative rugs for the hearth.

Finding clothing these days made of 100% wool is difficult. The clothing is cut apart and washed in the machine using hot water, detergent and a cold rinse to shrink the fibers of the wool together. The felting process prevents the edges from raveling when it is appliqued to the background. A color scheme is selected and a pattern is drawn. The pieces are cut from a variety of colored wool and then blanket stitched or tacked with small stitches to the background. Embroidery is used for detail work. All stitching is done with pearl cotton. Once I had the bench top completed, it was time to paint the bench. I primed it and painted it with two coats of my favorite red. Once the paint was dry, I distressed the edges and applied three coats of paste wax.

The last step was to tack the covering on the bench and glue on "gimp" to hide the raw edges. The transformation!

Perfect for a foyer.

I have been busy getting ready for a show in Kohler, Wisconsin on Saturday November 20th. It is held in the local high school. A great place to start your holiday shopping. I'll be posting my new projects as they are finished.


  1. Wow!! Absolutely Beautiful!!
    Love, Love, LOVE IT!!!

  2. That is absolutely gorgeous! I've never heard of penny rugs - I must look into that.

  3. I LOVE this bench. I have always been fascinated by penny rugs and felted wool, but have never tried it. You make it sound "doable"! Discovered your blog through Miss Mustard Seed. Nice to see something that isn't white for a change! Am anxious to see more of your projects. I'm a teacher also--elementary science. Don't know how you find time for your projects, but keep the inspiration coming. Karen

  4. This turned out really nice, Mary!! You did a great job! Good luck at Kohler!! Maybe I'll check that one out this year while my hubby is hunting! Julie

  5. Hi Mary! Thanks for stopping by! I adore that "zinc" dresser you put together... wow, it just makes me rethink some pieces of furniture I passed up because of loud paint.

  6. Hello! This bench is stunning! I love your applique technique. Welcome to Blog-ville. I am your newest follower.

  7. It's beautiful! I love it! It totally opens up my mind to new possibilities with furniture!

  8. Oh, that's GORGEOUS! I adore the wool applique...what a neat "penny" technique - had never heard of it until now. Thank you so much for sharing with air your laundry Friday.